An image depicting a VAT Refund Scheme for Business Visitors

Getting Your VAT Refund as a Business Visitor to the UAE

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) implements a standard 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on the supply of most goods and services. For short-term business visitors, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) provides a VAT refund scheme to recover this tax paid on expenses during their trip.

Who Can Apply for VAT Refunds? 

The VAT refund program is open to all non-resident business visitors who fulfill these easy criteria:

  • You do not live in the UAE or any GCC country
  • You have no company or permanent establishment registered in the UAE
  • You are visiting the UAE expressly for business activities like:
  • Attending conferences, seminars or workshops
  • Business meetings and corporate events 
  • Incentive travel groups
  • Trade shows and exhibitions
  • You incur VAT-eligible business expenses during your time here

Both individuals and enterprise representatives visiting for the above short-term business activities qualify to register and reclaim VAT.

Step-By-Step Process for Getting VAT Refunds

As a eligible business visitor, you just need to follow these simple steps:

1. Register Online with the FTA

First, create an e-Services account on the FTA website. This is quick and easy – you only need your passport. Upon registration, you will receive a unique 17-digit Tax Registration Number (TRN).

2. Save VAT Invoices for Eligible Expenses 

During your stay, collect tax invoices and receipts when paying for hotel, restaurants, transportation, conferences and other expenses. Ensure VAT of 5% is clearly mentioned on them.

3. Meet the Minimum Refund Claim Limit

You can only submit your reclaim when total VAT-inclusive expenses exceed AED 500. So retain invoices till you reach this threshold.

4. Submit Online VAT Refund Claim 

Before leaving the UAE, login to the FTA portal and submit your claim by uploading scanned copies of invoices and filling a simple form.

5. Depart UAE to Get Refund  

The FTA will process your claim within 1 business day. But you can collect refunds only when exiting the UAE via airports and seaports.

The automated, paperless process makes VAT refunds convenient without lengthy approvals or verification.

Types of Expenses that Qualify for VAT Refund

You can claim VAT paid on common business expenses like:

  • Hotel rooms and accommodation
  • Restaurants and dining charges
  • Conferences, seminars, exhibitions  
  • Vehicle rental services
  • Fuel costs for rental and personal cars
  • Retail purchases like gifts, souvenirs, electronics etc.

So most standard business trip expenses are eligible for VAT refunds under the FTA scheme.

Ineligible Expenses 

VAT cannot be refunded on:

  • Purchase of any commercial goods or services
  • Expenses where VAT refund is availed through other schemes 
  • Hotel bookings via online travel agents, operators
  • Any unlawful expenses incurred in the UAE

Getting Your VAT Refunds When Exiting UAE

On approval, you can collect VAT refunds when departing from these ports: 

  • Airports – Dubai International Airport (DXB), Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
  • Seaports – Port Rashid, Port Khalid 

Mode of Payment

  • Cash – For refund amounts below AED 10,000
  • Bank transfer – For refunds exceeding AED 10,000  

The payment method lets you easily receive owed amounts in cash or bank transfer before leaving the UAE.


The UAE’s seamless VAT refund scheme allows international business visitors to conveniently recover VAT paid during their stay. By registering on the FTA portal and uploading tax invoices for hotel, conferences, transportation and other trip expenses, non-resident business travelers can offset a significant portion of their costs incurred as VAT.

So when visiting the UAE for work events, meetings or conferences, be sure to utilize this automated process for reclaiming VAT. It takes just minutes to submit details online and get approved refunds in cash or bank transfer on departure. This promotes business travel and makes the UAE an attractive regional hub for global congresses, seminars, exhibitions and corporate functions.

With tourism rebounding and companies ramping up travel post-pandemic, the portal facilitates seamless VAT recovery for non-resident business visitors. Contact the Federal Tax Authority for any other queries on eligibility, documents required or using the self-service portal.


How long after departure is the refund issued?

The FTA issues confirmed refunds on the spot when you exit from approved air/seaports.

What documents do I need to provide?

Submit just the online application and scanned copies of original tax invoices/receipts. Keep physical copies handy though.

Is there a maximum refund amount per person?

No maximum limit, as long as you provide supporting invoices meeting the minimum AED 500 criteria.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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